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Property Fraud and Cybercrime

View profile for Amanda Payne
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You may have read the recent article in the news about an absent Landlord whose house was “sold” for £1.3m in London.

The fraudster rented the house initially, changed their name by Deed Poll to the same name as that of the registered proprietor of the property. That enabled them to obtain a Passport in that name so presenting the Passport and utility bills as ID to solicitors would not be suspicious upon instructing in the sale of the property. The transaction proceeded and as there was no mortgage, all of the £1.3m less the costs of the sale was sent to the fraudster, and not yet recovered. It was the purchaser who fell victim to the crime and who has lost all their money and has not had the property registered in their name.

There are many types of fraud and scams which firms of Solicitors can be subject to which the general public will not be necessarily aware of. One involves fraudsters phoning solicitors pretending to be banks to obtain sensitive information, such as account passwords.

Another scam involves emails between firms and clients being intercepted, leading to client funds being paid into fraudsters’ accounts.

One recent case involved a fraudulent email from what appeared to be the solicitor’s account giving the client updated bank account details that resulted in a couple paying £333,000 into the criminals’ account. Although the bank managed to recover most of the money, the couple were still out of pocket by £62,000.

There is something you can do though to protect your own property. The Land Registry allow you to protect your land and property from fraud. They have introduced “Property Alert” where you can sign up to receive a notification if someone, for example, applies to change the registers of title i.e. the true owners of the property, or to register a mortgage.

Business owners can use this tool as well. You can get alerts for up to 10 properties and there is no Land Registry fee payable.

Make it your News Years Resolution to get yourself protected by visiting https://propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk and registering your property.

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